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Bar Code Technology and Medication Administration Error

Young, Judith MSN, CCRN*; Slebodnik, Maribeth MLS; Sands, Laura PhD

doi: 10.1097/PTS.0b013e3181de35f7
Review Article

Medication administration error (MAE) remains a patient safety concern. Few studies have investigated the impact of bar-coded technology on medication error reduction during the medication administration process at the bedside in acute care settings. The purpose and focus of this systematic review is to determine whether implementation of the Bar Code Medication Administration System (BCMA) is associated with declines in MAE rate. Findings from this systematic review reveal varied findings between studies and among the 5 rights of medication administration (right drug, right time, right patient, right dose, and right route) in general. Although BCMA did not consistently decrease the overall incidence of MAE, the technology did identify categories of medication errors not previously detected with the traditional 5 rights approach. The opportunity to analyze the additional categories of MAE identified by BCMA has implications for patient safety and is perhaps the most significant contribution of this review.

From the *Indiana University School of Nursing, Indianapolis; †Purdue University Libraries; and ‡Purdue University School of Nursing, West Lafayette, Indiana.

Correspondence: Judith Young, MSN, CCRN, 1111 Middle Dr, Indiana University School of Nursing, Indianapolis, IN 46202 (e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.